The Malta Independent 9 June 2023, Friday
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Suspect in murder of Polish woman referred to Mount Carmel Hospital

Monday, 3 January 2022, 10:08 Last update: about 2 years ago

The suspect in the murder of Paulina Maria Dembska has been referred to Mount Carmel Hospital, police said in a statement on Monday morning.

29-year-old Dembska, who is from Poland, was found murdered early on Sunday morning by passers-by at the Independence Gardens in Sliema.

A 20-year-old Maltese man from Zejtun was arrested by police soon after and is being held as the main suspect.  MaltaToday have named the man as Abner Aquilina.

He was arrested on Monday morning after raising commotion in the nearby Balluta parish church at around 6am, after he went up to the altar and overturned some chairs.  He was dragged outside by some men, at which point he reportedly mentioned something about the murder. The men called the police, and the suspect was apprehended.

Police said on Monday morning that the suspect had been taken to Mater Dei Hospital for a check-up, from where he was referred to Mount Carmel Hospital.

As a result, police said that they have had to suspend their interrogations.

Police also formally identified Dembska as the victim, saying that she was living in a hostel in Sliema and was in Malta as a student.

She had posted glowing reviews about Malta on her social media profile, and was also an advocate in favour of women's rights against domestic and sexual abuse.  She also frequently fed the cat colony which lived in the same gardens where she was found murdered.

It has been reported that she was raped before she was killed, and that she was found stripped of some of her clothes and with chest and head injuries.

Flowers meanwhile have been laid at the site of where Dembska's body was found, and a vigil is also planned for Tuesday evening.

‘Paulina was killed because she was a woman, we will not forget her name’ - Women's Rights Foundation

The Woman’s Rights Foundation has called the murder of Paulina Dembska a femicide, announcing that a vigil will be held for her on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Women’s Rights Foundation said: “When we launched our Malta Observatory on Femicide last month, we would have never expected to have a new case of a woman dying at the hands of a man so soon. Sadly, the latest case just proves the point that the observatory is very much needed. Details are scant, but we know her name – Paulina Dembska. She suffered one of the most brutal forms of gender based violence against women. We are adding her name to the long list of names of women whose life was cut short because of misogyny and relentless male violence caused by it.”

“There is no way of putting it any other way – the cause of her demise, and those of others before her, is men. We can talk about laws, we can introduce new and tougher punishments, but until we deal with the root cause, we are a far cry from ensuring that women will not be abused and killed on account of their gender. We need to stop dealing with symptoms and deal with the source of this plague. We need to talk about abuse perpetrated by men and inherent inequality and work to eradicate it. Then and only then we can talk about meaningful change.”

The Women's Rights Foundation called on the authorities and policy makers to accept responsibility for failing to prevent femicide and step up their game.

“We call on our legal and judicial system to once and for all take femicide, gender based violence & violence against women seriously and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable, and dissuasive punishments meted out. We call on our political class to take the lives and wellbeing of the women living in this country in a serious and comprehensive manner.”

“Ultimately, we call on all good people in Malta to see that the solution to violence on women lies in all of us. We call on all of you to ask difficult questions, demand answers and change from authorities and help us all establish Malta as a safe, violence free environment for our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, wives, partners. You too have a role to play.”

“Her name is Paulina, she was a woman and she was killed because she was a woman. We will not forget her name, nor the names of women before her.”

“A vigil will be held tomorrow, 4th January 2022 at 6pm at Exiles, Sliema. We ask those attending to bring a candle.”


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